Howard Hawk's follow-up to Scarface, The Crowd Roars is a fast-paced racing drama centered around Joe Greer, a top-ranked race car driver, who is dedicated to his craft, unwilling to let anything come in-between him and the race track. Joe's longtime girlfriend, Lee, is growing impatient with him, fed up with Joe constantly placing his profession before her. All the fame and fortune which Joe possesses will eventually fade, yet Joe is reluctant to commit fully to this woman, fearing that he will lose his edge on the race track in which precision is everything. After another argument about their future together, which sees Lee reluctantly accept Joe's commitment to racing over marriage, Joe returns to his hometown fresh off a win in Indianapolis, intent on competing in a local race for the masses. On his arrival, Joe discovers his kid brother, Eddie, is adamant about following in his footsteps, but Joe is reluctant, knowing full well of his brother's penchant for being spontaneous and by result reckless. After impressing in the local race, Joe has no choice but to sign his kid brother, but soon Joe's intuition about his brother comes to fruition, when his kid brother falls for the fast-moving Ann, causing a rift between the brothers which threatens to end their relationship for good. Howard Hawks' The Crowd Roars is a minor effort from the highly acclaimed filmmaker, yet it still offers enough excitement and drama to keep the viewer engaged from start to finish. The story itself gets a little clunky though in the end, as Lee admits to being one of the driving forces between separating Joe and his brother, in an effort to show him what she is going through - how it feels to not have someone you love. While I get what the filmmakers are going for, it simply doesn't work as well as it should, as I found myself constantly thinking that there must have been a more efficient way to get Joe to realize this, without causing a huge rift between him and his brother that also resulted in the death of a close friend. The main thing that stands out about The Crowd Roars is Hawks' direction, particularly when it comes to the racing sequences, exhibiting the intense and visceral nature of these races where life itself can hang in the balance. Made in the early thirties, Hawk's effectively captures the chaos of car racing, using rear projection and well-designed punch-ins that truly capture the raw energy of the sport. The Roar of The Crowd's story is archetypal, with its main protagonist Joe going from having everything to having nothing, with the heart of the story being his realization that family and love itself must always be placed first and foremost. While The Crowd Roars is far from Howard Hawks best films, it's worth a look alone for the car racing sequences, along with James Cagney doing what he does, delivering another strong, steadfast performance.
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